Healthy Body

The Best Lumbar Support Pillows for Better Posture, According to a Physical Therapist

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You know the feeling: It's 6 p.m. and you've shut your laptop for the day, only to get up from your desk with lower back pain so intense, you don't know if you're going to make it to that Happy Hour after all. You've gone too long without one of the best lumbar support pillows, and your back is feeling the burn.

Unforgiving office chairs, backless kitchen stools, and worn-out couches can all wreak havoc on our spine health. Layer on bad posture (aka, hunching over our laptops to better see our screens) and back pain can become brutal over time. Luckily, accessories like lumbar support pillows can help take a load off tired spines, alleviating pressure and reducing stress as you sit.

Best lumbar pillows at-a-glance

"Oftentimes, we sit at the edge of our chairs without any back support and end up slouched," says Jessica McManus, PT, FAAOMPT, physical therapist, functional medicine health coach, and owner of Full Circle Wellness PT. "When we use a lumbar support pillow or chair, it encourages us to scoot our bottoms all the way back into the chair and let our backs be supported by the back of the chair. This gives our back muscles a nice rest and encourages a better upright posture for our entire spine, while supporting our natural spinal curve in the lower back."

What to look for in lumbar support pillows

What do the best lumbar suport pillows have in common? For starters, the pillow should hug your natural spine curve. "These cushions are often more square or rectangle shape, with a gentle curve to them, and not so much like the thicker, log-shaped cushions," says McManus. These will improve your posture while resolving mild soreness throughout the day.

McManus also says firmness is important. "You want a cushion that is firm enough to hold its shape when you lean against it, and not something that will squish under the pressure of your back," she advises. This also means paying attention to the curve of your cushion, and making sure it nests into the natural contours of your body. "If it's too small, you may be encouraged to flex your spine more, and if it's too large, you may begin to arch your back more than feels natural," she says. "Having some way to secure it onto your chair is also very helpful, like velcro straps to keep it in place."

In addition, Dr. Lev Kalika, a chiropractor and owner New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy, recommends finding a lumbar pillow that can be adjustable whether through ergonomic design or through air mechanism. "This is necessary because everyone has an individual spine configuration—some people may need to increase their lordosis (excessive inward curvature of the spine); some may need to support their increased lordosis; and some may need to decrease the height of their lordosis. Therefore, lumbar pillows should be able to be adjustable and come in all different shapes so that your spine can find custom comfort and support," he says.

The best lumbar pillows for lower back support

Best inflatable: BodyRyzm LifeSciences, Back Vitalizer — $60.00

McManus is a big fan of this pillow which has brought her patients “a lot of success.” It’s completely adjustable and portable, perfect for providing quick relief in desk chairs, car seats, and on uncomfortable plane rides. “I like that it can be inflated or deflated for more or less support,” she says.

Materials: Fabric, air-inflatable

Firmness level: Medium

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Lightweight
  • Can adjust support level by inflation or deflation

Cons:

  • Not as firm or contouring as some pillows

 

Best memory foam: Everlasting, Comfort Lumbar Support Pillow — $40.00

Love that memory foam feel? Mcmanus (and 29,000+ happy Amazon customers) also suggests this pillow, which swaps the inflatable design for a dreamy, spine-loving foam. It’s only $30 and has everything you want in a good lumbar support pillow: It contours to your back, is travel-friendly, and is breathable, so no worrying about breaking a sweat while you try and perfect your posture. If you do get a little sweaty, fear not—the removable cover is machine washable and easy to zip on and off.

Materials: Fabric, Memory foam

Firmness level: Medium/firm

Pros:

  • Contours to your back
  • Anti-sweat absorbent fabric
  • Dual adjustable straps
  • Machine-washable cover

Cons:

  • Thick in size
Best seat pillow: Tush Cush, Tush Cush Orthopedic Seat — $55.00

If you’re struggling with back pain from sitting in an office chair all day, Mcmanus recommends the Tush Cush. “This is generally something that you place on your seat, and sit on,” she says. “It slightly shifts the pressure of your body weight forward so that you have less pressure directly on your lower spine, and more on the back of your thighs.”

The original also features a washable fabric cover that makes it easy to clean. If you’re feeling fancy, though, it also comes in a cloud-like sheepskin option that’ll change the way you sit forever.

Materials: Velour, foam

Firmness level: Medium

Pros:

  • Tilts pelvis to restore natural curve of spine
  • Reduces pressure on lower back
  • Machine-washable cover

Cons:

  • No cushion directly on your back

 

Best for lower back: Sunday Citizen, Snug Lumbar Support Pillow — $85.00

If your lower back is really feeling the burn, tuck this narrow pillow behind your lower back for instant relief. It’s made from a plush memory foam that absorbs shock and relieves pressure where you need it most. Its narrow design also doubles as a body pillow that fits in between legs and under hips perfectly. Doesn’t hurt that it comes in a rainbow of colors that double as hygge home decor.

Materials: Microfiber, memory foam

Firmness level: Medium

Pros:

  • Versatile — can be used for back, neck, or as a body pillow
  • Attractive
  • Machine-washable cover

Cons:

  • Long, so may not fit as well on an office chair
Best ergonomic: Cushion Lab, Back Relief Lumbar Pillow — $79.00

Desk chairs, sofa, passenger seats, your favorite La-Z-Boy—if you can lean up against it, Cushion Lab’s lumbar support pillow can make it more comfortable. Designed by the brand’s team of in-house ergonomists, it hugs the spine to match the natural contours of the back and balance the spine. Know that it is made from an extra-firm memory foam, so if you prefer a more forgiving fabric, this might not be your thing. Otherwise, strap it on to any surface, sit back, and relax.

Materials: Fabric, memory foam

Firmness level: Firm

Pros:

  • Contours naturally against the back
  • Adjustable strap
  • Machine-washable cover

Cons:

  • Extra dense firm may not be for everyone
Best breathable: Lovehome, Lumbar Support Pillow — $27.00

Another budget-friendly option is this lumbar support pillow from Lovehome, which has garnered a devoted following on Amazon. The memory foam body is ideal for long days at your desk or in your car, giving you better spinal alignment as you sit. It’s breathable, travel-friendly, and ultra-supportive, plus it’s backed with a lifetime warranty in case you ever need a replacement.

Materials: Mesh cover, memory foam

Firmness level: Medium

Pros:

  • Supports back’s natural curve
  • Adjustable straps
  • Breathable and machine-washable cover

Cons:

  • Thick in size
Best cooling: Purple, Back Cushion — $59.00

If you’re looking for instant comfort, you can never go wrong with a Purple product. This back pillow uses the brand’s signature Grid that absorbs shock, alleviates pain, and provides relief in all the right places. Use the adjustable strap to secure it to your favorite desk chair, then sit back and relish in the Grid’s too-good-to-be-true cushiness. Paired with the brand’s double seat cushion, and you’ll never want to leave your office chair again.

Materials: Proprietary Purple Grid (GelFlex polymer)

Firmness level: Medium

Pros:

  • Air channels allow for maximum air flow
  • Flexible, but bounce-back material
  • Adjustable strap
  • Machine-washable cover, rinse off grid with soap and water

Cons:

  • Hard to keep the pillow in place
Best roll pillow: OPTP, The Original McKenzie Lumbar Roll — $25.00

Want a pillow you can truly take anywhere? The McKenzie roll is about as portable as it gets, thanks to its compact design and lightweight packaging that fits easily into duffels, backpacks, suitcases, and more. Don’t let its size fool you, though—this small-but-mighty pillow is ideal for localized relief and has won the hearts of pain specialists, physical therapists, and chiropractors for years. For $24, adding one to your home office (or office office) is a no-brainer.

Materials: Fabric, foam

Firmness level: Medium or firm options

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Adjustable strap
  • Has two density options to choose from

Cons:

  • Moves around because of cylindrical shape
Best heated: Homedics, Lumbar Pillow — $65.00

We know McManus advised agaist logs, but editors love this heated option from Homedics. It doubles as a heating pad, warming sore muscles and loosening things up while you support. Like the others, it fits seamlessly onto chairs and sofas, only this one comes with three different heat settings to soothe while you sit. Seriously, this plush pillow is so comfy, you’ll never sit in another stiff desk chair without one again.

Materials: Fabric, foam

Firmness level: Medium/firm

Pros:

  • Can be used on neck, back, and shoulders, and while lying down
  • Three heat settings
  • Adjustable strap

Cons:

  • Corded, so have to be near a power outlet
Wrap and Go Ergonomic Lumbar Support Cushion Pillow
Best full back support: Wrap and Go, Ergonomic Lumbar Support Cushion Pillow — $54.00

Dr. Kalika recommends this ergonomic memory foam pillow that can conform to different people’s backs. It has a removable, machine-washable mesh cover to keep you cool, it’s lightweight so you can bring it with you from room to room, in the car, on-the-go, and more.

Materials: Fabric, memory foam

Firmness level: Medium/firm

Pros:

  • Ergonomic
  • Memory foam is supportive
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Bulky in size
Coushy Ergonomic Back Relief Cushion
Best temperature regulating: Coushy, Ergonomic Back Relief Cushion — $62.00

Another ergonomic recommendation from Dr. Kalika, this pillow can be strapped to most chairs and fits most lumbar curves. It’s made with bamboo charcoal-infused memory foam to provide support and be temperature regulating and odor-resistant. The cover is also breathable and washable, and the inner lining has anti-microbial protection to keep it fresh even after multiple uses.

Materials: Fabric, memory foam

Firmness level: Medium/firm

Pros:

  • Temperature regulating
  • Memory foam is supportive
  • Anti-bacterial lining
  • Adjustable strap

Cons:

  • Some reviewers say the straps slip

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